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The Spontanist

Note: I use the pronoun “he” in this post (mostly because I included the picture of myself below). But if your vessel is of the female variety, feel free to substitute it with “she” while reading.

Spontanist

The Spontanist is the physical embodiment of spontaneity, living in perpetual celebration of the present moment.

The past can be learned from and the future can be used to plan, but the now is where life happens. The present is where the Spontanist resides.

The Spontanist welcomes change.

The only constant is change. The universe is in a state of continuous flux and so are we. Atoms are 99.999999999999% empty space and electrons are blinking in and out of existence. There is no real solidity! The world around us, as well as our bodies, are amalgamations of slowed vibrations. So to think that we are rigid, fixed and unchanging is utterly insane. The Spontanist leverages the permanent impermanence of reality. He rides the winds of change without resistance.

The Spontanist embraces the unknown.

He does not fear the unknown but greets it with open arms. Life is mysterious. Existence is enigmatic. There are so many unknowns. Certainty is an illusion but we all have the ability to handle anything life throws at us. The Spontanist understands this and gratefully accepts mystery as the key to adventure.

The Spontanist does not confine their entire identity to a label.

He has no need to box his identity inside of a nationality, race, gender, political party or name. Why imprison the self within a label, when you can choose the whole? (And the liberation that comes with it.) The Spontanist just is.

Yes, the word “Spontanist” is a label, but it is only a signpost, not an identity. And a signpost to describe only one aspect of being, at that.

When asking the question “Who am I?” the only plausible answer for the Spontanist is “I am.”

The Spontanist has no rigid, static personality to uphold.

(Nothing is rigid and static anyway, though we might delude ourselves into thinking so.)

He is free to be however he wants to be. His sense of self isn’t relegated to adjectives that describe behavior. The Spontanist isn’t quiet or loud, athletic or nerdy. He embodies any adjective, depending on what the moment brings. The Spontanist dances, not because he is a dancer, but because he feels like dancing.

The Spontanist is guided by intuition.

Intuition is his inner compass. The Spontanist flows through life, surfing streams of intuition into the magical mystery of existence. He uses inner judgment to determine his path, not the opinions other people or the standardized norms of society.

The Spontanist is dynamic.

He happily adjusts to any situation. He is strong yet yielding, flexible yet empowered.

The Spontanist epitomizes water as described by Bruce Lee…

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

The Spontanist doesn’t suppress desires.

He knows how to differentiate between genuine desires and deceitful desires. The Spontanist operates through intuition, not ego. He is motivated by love as opposed to fear. Acting out of a place of love, the Spontanist is confident with any decision-making.

The Spontanist has faith.

The Spontanist has faith in himself. He has faith that everything happens for a reason and everything is a learning experience. He has faith that he harbors the ability to gracefully flow through even the most turbulent of life’s waters.

Spontaneity is the spice of life and the Spontanist is a master chef.

Now is always the perfect time to cook up some freestyle fun.

 

2

There Are No Problems in the Present Moment

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While I was in the shower this morning, I found myself getting annoyed and worked up…

I recently broke up with the woman I was dating. So I was grappling with my ego and mulling over the past. Realizing that I had created this negative mental spiral, I asked myself “What am I doing RIGHT NOW?” My answer was simply “I’m in the shower.” No problems, nothing bad happening to me, just water happily running over my body.

Of course, parting ways with someone close to you is difficult, but being completely present helped me to transcend the incessant, ego-driven thought loops that didn’t serve me.

To be clear, I’m not saying to suppress or ignore emotions. They must be acknowledged and dealt with or they will manifest in insidious ways. I’m merely pointing out that, through presence, I was able to stop the repetitive, problem-creating “ego-talk” that wasn’t doing me any good.

Combine intense presence with viewing everything as a learning experience or challenge (see: The Challenge Perspective), and you’ll be alright no matter what.

“There’s no place quite like here. There’s no better time than now.” – Jhene Aiko

Be here totally. Be here now.

When you’re completely in the moment, you feel blissful no matter what. It just works that way. But when we obsess over the past or future, everything starts becoming an issue. Our neurotic monkey mind, which can be an extremely useful tool, becomes problematic when we’re engulfed by it.

“The circumstances you are experiencing are not the cause of your suffering. The cause of your suffering is the thought that what is happening should not be happening or is not supposed to be happening.” – Teal Swan

That message is profound. And it does not mean that you should become passive and do nothing with your life. Not at all. To put it another way, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Just be. Totally accept the present moment and fully immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing; that’s when so-called problems fade away and life becomes magical.

How to steep yourself in the sweet nectar of the present moment:

1. Recognize when you’re obsessing over the past or future.
Are you caught in endless loops of thought? Are you playing out arguments in your head? Are you defending yourself in your head? Is your ego trying to justify itself? Are you thinking about how you’re better (or worse) than someone? Are you worrying about something that might happen in the future? Are you marinating on something in the past that you can’t change?

2. Ask yourself “What am I doing RIGHT NOW?”
What are you doing right now, at this very moment? Not five minutes from now, not next week. What are you doing NOW? Whenever you do this, you find that it’s all good and that the problems you’re creating in your head are based on projections into the past or future.

The exception to this is something like getting chased by a bear. But in any life-threatening situation, you don’t have “time” (see what I did there?) to worry or feel bad for yourself. You’re just absorbed in the moment and existing in pure, adrenaline-fueled action. Danger can be very real but fear is a mental construct.

3. Firmly tell yourself to “Be here now.” (Or any other affirmation that helps to bring you back to the present moment.)

A mantra that keeps me present and worry-free is “All I have is my breath.” I breathe deeply and repeat those words to myself. This mantra grounds me into the moment and makes me truly understand that anything can be taken away from me at any time. It puts me at peace with the perpetual, enigmatic flux of the Universe.

To drive the point hOMe, here are some quotes from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle:

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”

Embrace the present, it’s a gift.

Much love.

– Stevie P
 

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1

The Challenge Perspective

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”
― Carlos Castaneda

There are no problems, only challenges.

This is the lens through which I’ve looked at life lately. I’ll call it “the challenge perspective”; and it’s been utterly transformative for me.

Viewing everything as a challenge closely ties in with the idea of life being a video game of sorts. Would you play Super Mario if all you had to do was just walk to the right the whole time, unopposed by any obstacles? Of course not, the challenge is what makes it fun. Pushing our limits makes it all worth it. We only grow when we’re subjected to resistance.

How are you viewing and addressing “difficult” situations in life? Are you stepping into your inherent power and taking them head on? Or are you playing victim and wallowing in disempowerment? Your experience of life can (and will) vary radically depending on your perspective.

When your significant other is angry or frustrated, do you react with similar anger or frustration? Do you run away because you think you can’t handle it? Or do you take on the challenge and embody love and lightheartedness in the face of fear?

When you’re running low on money, do you dwell in self-pity and victimhood? Or do you embrace the challenge and work to better your situation?

When you have to do something you despise doing at work, do you throw your hands up in defeat and complain? Or do you say “challenge accepted” and get it done, knowing that it will make you a stronger person?

When you’re pushing your physical limits, do you succumb to fear and doubt? Or do you tap into your indwelling fortitude and power through?

I had to tussle with that last set of questions recently while hiking Mt. Washington with the beautiful, wonderful Wander Woman (evidence below). She set a rigorous pace, to say the least, as we ascended the highest peak in the Northeastern USA (on its toughest trail too). We donkey konged up steep slopes of snow and ice, scrambled up rock faces, and scaled serious inclines for hours on end. There were points where I was exhausted and felt self-doubt creeping in, but I tapped deep into my reservoir of empowerment and pushed through. Because of that, I’m a stronger, more resilient person.

When you break on through, a greater version of yourself appears on the other side.

Mt Wash

You see, it’s not really about what happens to you in life; it’s about how you perceive each situation and how you act based on your perception. That’s what determines your subjective reality.

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

Life isn’t easy for anyone. But that’s the beauty of it. We all have our unique struggles which shape our character. We all have obstacles to overcome. We all face challenges that facilitate continuous growth and development.

Diamonds are created under extraordinary pressure. Mighty swords are forged in fierce fires of intensified heat.

Embrace the challenges presented to you. They’re perfect for your evolution into the best version of yourself.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

Learn, grow, persevere, and, most importantly, have fun.

– Stevie P!

It’s All Research, Therefore I Cannot Fail

This is a guest post by Alton Eckel.

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My mother taught me one of the greatest lessons in life: it’s all research. It was a lesson that I took with me into my first Ironman race last summer. When I felt exhausted, or my body ached, I re-evaluated my current state and redirected myself to a more constructive frame of mind. What could I do differently next time? What had I done properly that day? How had my training prepared me for the day’s elements? I can confidently say that I have never “failed” due to this outlook. When something has been unsuccessful in training or racing (or anything in life for that matter), I simply consider it a disproven hypothesis.

I am an adolescent when it comes to the world of endurance racing and triathlons; I still have a sense of immortality and innocence to me. I have not heard of an obscure race that I would not try or a distance that I did not believe was achievable. My ambition has carried me to many daunting start lines and my tenacity has pushed me across the same number of finish lines. That’s correct: in more than one hundred races ranging from 5k’s to full Ironman triathlons I have never shown a DNF (Did Not Finish) next to my name.

I did not run during high school. As a matter of fact, a telephone pole length was a distance event during my teenage years. I was an All American cheerleader who had avoided her bike since middle school. Then, one day, a middle aged, slightly overweight man asked me to join him for a two mile run. He tore up the pavement and left my ego at the door. This shifted my perspective. I became lit up at the idea of improving my run. Not to mention getting out of the gym and stationary machines. Within five months of my first official run I did my first half marathon. My sense of accomplishment fueled my interest in continuing with the sport. And in less than a year I ran my first marathon.

I also bought a bike and entered a sprint triathlon around the same point in time. This was where I faced my greatest challenge, since swimming has always been a struggle for me. I used a noodle on the swim. It may as well have been an inner tube. Out of two thousand women, I was 9th from last on the swim. Then I kissed my bike, made my way through the crowded streets and ended up finishing in the middle of the field. I learned a great deal during that race about my self and my ability. I was not invincible. I needed to practice swimming. I needed to train with more brick sessions. I needed to alter my nutrition.

The following year, I returned to the same sprint triathlon determined to test out my new skills. I had done my research. I had taken swim lessons. I had done weekly bricks. I had tested my nutrition through trial and error. The hard work paid off. I finished that race first in my age group and nineteenth overall. I discovered how a challenging experience could be used as research toward a more positive one in the future. Now I’m always excited for my next race, as it’s an opportunity to test my hypotheses once again.

While recently juggling triathlon training and attending college full-time for my Master’s in Psychology, I have realized that the two are closely intertwined. The cognitive aspect of training and racing is an exercise in mental toughness and inner dialogue. I have self reflected over and over again and discovered the therapy that endurance racing offers.

This also elicited the question of why I’m able to use my inner dialogue to push forward, while some athletes are paralyzed by self-defeating thoughts and fear. I am not the bionic woman; my legs feel like lead bricks at mile 18 of the run during an Ironman, my back aches from a 40 lb pack after my seventh summit of the day in the White Mountains, and my vision becomes impaired at mile 90 of a hot century ride. Yet, somehow, I push through this feeling while others surrender to of the pain, turn back, or give up.

What separates us? I propose that it’s my inner dialogue, which is motivational and empowering. I have a drill sergeant within my own mind. When I grow tired or ache all over, my internal self says, “Suck it up, this is nothing!” My exhaustion and desire to slow down is overcome by my excitement and drive, while other athletes’ exhaustion and desire to slow down are exacerbated by feelings of disempowerment and defeat. The same thought creates a different inner dialogue for different athletes. The perception of our thoughts produces different behaviors and subsequent outcomes. As it turns out, endurance athletes are in a continuous process of engaging in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with themselves.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is therapeutic intervention in which thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are intertwined. The way we choose to react to a triggering event is dependent on our interpretation and thoughts surrounding it. Following our thought is an emotional response, which in turn affects our behavior. Therefore, our thoughts and emotions control our actions… even when training and racing.

CBT

How can we use CBT to improve performances and interpret failures in a motivating way? First, pay attention to what your inner dialogue is saying to you. To use running as an example: The next hard tempo run that you go out for listen to your thoughts and physical responses. Do you give up on the fast pace a half mile prior to your anticipated distance? If so, then what were you thinking when you chose to slow down? Was your body tense and in a state of fear?

Understanding what happens within our body and thoughts just before we decide (yes, it’s a decision) to give up or slow down helps us to change future outcomes and improve performances. If we have self defeating thoughts such as, “I cannot meet my goal, I’m too tired” then working on a more productive thought pattern such as, “I’ve felt this tired before, time to dig deep and work toward closing in on that goal” can improve our performance and boost our confidence.

Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in training and racing. Challenge yourself to improve your inner dialogue and find the lesson learned in unmet goals. Work toward using difficult days as motivation. As my mom states, it’s all research. None of us have failed, just disproven hypotheses.

“Do not dedicate your life to your sport, but rather, dedicate your sport to your life.”
-Dan Millman

“There is no failure, only feedback.”
-Mark Allen

About Alton:
Alton is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness. She’s also a trail runner, triathlete, wolf mama and part-time superhero.

Follow Alton on Instagram: @trailbright

Alton

Creativity on Demand: How to Become an Idea Machine

So, living up to what I wrote about in my last post, I released a new book on Amazon Kindle! It’s called 11 Steps to Become an Idea Machine. This book is seriously life-changing for anyone, especially if you’re someone who wants to transcend mediocrity and make an impact on the world. I provided a bit of a preview for you below.

11 Steps to Become an Idea Machine (A Glimpse)

Everything made manifest by humanity begins as an idea…

The airplane once only existed as an image in someone’s imagination; then eventually materialized in the physical world.

The same applies to the entire spectrum of human creativity and invention. From the wheel to paintings; from clothing to philosophies; from nuclear bombs to Pokemon. They all began as an idea.

Ideas serve as the building blocks from which we create reality.

Ideas are prodigiously powerful. They exist beyond time and space. Once shared, a potent idea has the ability to reshape reality as we know it. Anything and everything of the material realm is subject to the dominion of underlying ideas. 11 Steps to Become an Idea Machine provides you with a template to leverage the strength of ideas, empowering you to steer your life in whichever direction you choose.

What is an idea machine?

An idea machine is an individual with the ability to come up with ideas anytime, anywhere and under any circumstances. An idea machine embodies confident creativity. An idea machine is dynamic, open-minded and impeccably clever. An idea machine adds ever-increasing value to both themselves and those around them. An idea machine is remarkably generous, as hoarding ideas only blocks one’s ability to receive more.

This book shows you, step-by-step, how to become an idea machine. Each step concludes with a challenge to help you integrate the information presented. In addition, there is a consolidated list of challenges, which serve as a simple guide for implement the steps into your daily life.

Ideas and Action…

There is a world of difference between the average person with one great idea who fears to pursue it, and the idea machine who chooses, out of thousands of ideas, a few to bring to fruition. The average person is stagnant, while the idea machine is dynamic. The average person is afraid to take action, while the idea machine takes action when he or she chooses to.

If you come up with an idea you wish to pursue, then yes, you need to execute it. Action is absolutely necessary in this case (which is detailed in the bonus chapter). There is no question about that. But as you will discover, idea generation, in and of itself, comes with a plethora of pleasantly surprising benefits.

Imagine what it’s like to always have access to an infinitely abundant stream of fresh ideas. Can you say wizardry?

Do you want to be more creative than most people can fathom?
Do you want to always be the most interesting person in the room?
Do you want to provide immense value to others?
Do you want to have more opportunities?
Do you want to be empowered and shape your own destiny?
Do you want to maximize your life in every way?

Become an idea machine and join in on the fun.

And here is a sneak peak of the actual steps:

  1. Write Everything Down (The Keystone)
  2. View the World as an Idea Playground
  3. Meditation (Master Your Mind)
  4. Maintain a Healthy Antenna
  5. Walk the Path of New Ideas
  6. Reading is Fun-(for)-da-mental
  7. Engage in Productive Solitude
  8. Shower Power
  9. Travel AKA Idea Tripping
  10. Ask Yourself…
  11. Flex Your Idea Muscle

Click here to get your copy of “11 Steps to Become an Idea Machine” today.

 

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How to Channel Your Inner 2pac and Ravenously Create

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Taking a step back a few days ago, I found myself muttering, “Now I know how 2pac felt.”

I’m in the midst of the most productive weeks of my life. By a long shot. And to be honest, I almost feel like a superhero with newly attained powers; sure-footed yet surprised, and impressed to the point of slight skepticism regarding the sudden jump in abilities.

I have a burning desire to express as much as I possibly can, blended with a deep-seated sense of urgency to create, create, create. Then create some more.

Due to a deluge of techniques and lifestyle hacks I’ve employed, inspiration is hitting like a young Mike Tyson and creation has transformed from a “should” to a “must.” It’s an extended version of the “flow state” that so many artists talk about. Something that the late, great Tupac Shakur was intimately familiar with.

The King of Content

2pac had an insane work ethic, to the point of it becoming a form of modern mythology. The amount of material he produced in his short life is absolutely stunning. He would write and record ravenously, diving into sessions of intense focus like he wouldn’t live to see tomorrow (which eventually came to fruition, as it does for all of us).

In contemplating what drove ‘Pac to be a such a creation machine, I was able to distill it into three key points…

1. Sense of purpose

2pac had so much to share with the world. He was immensely intent on sparking people’s brains and instigating positive change in the world. This is why he touched on such a multitude of topics and dabbled in almost every form of artistic expression.

This quote encapsulates his innate sense of purpose…

“I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” – Tupac Shakur

If you have an intrinsic sense of purpose, absolutely nothing stands between you and what you wish to accomplish. When you live for something greater than yourself, there is no such thing as being tired. There are no complaints. The phrase “I can’t” doesn’t exist.

Purpose is what fuels that burning desire that exists deep within all of us.

I wrote extensively on finding purpose in this article, “Reveal Your Life’s Purpose by Asking These 15 Questions.”

2. Death as motivation (A deep-seated sense of urgency)

2pac put in work like his demise was imminent (even well before it really was).

We’re not promised tomorrow. Death is the only certainty in life. Most people mentally comprehend this, but they live in denial of this fact. Truly knowing and feeling it on a deep level is what drives that kind of motivation that 2pac and many other great creators had.

If you were to die right now, would you be satisfied with what you did here on Earth? Ask yourself that.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain

With death as motivation, there is no time to waste, there is no time to procrastinate, only time to fully express, from the depths of your being, what you truly need to do.

Create, create, create. Express the brilliant wisdom of your heart. Because you never know when you’re going to withdraw from your physical vessel…

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean

3. Sticking to “systems.”

Building off of the last two points, which are more like states of consciousness, you must consistently take action to create at a high level. Action is the currency of our reality. It is what you must exchange in order to achieve anything.

The most effective method for continuous creation is developing systems. What a system is, is a regular routine with a purpose. As an example, here’s what I did to write every book of mine… I focused on doing something every day, no matter how small. Some days I got in the zone and wrote pages upon pages. Other days I edited one sentence (true story). I just focused on doing at least something every day, and before I knew it, I had a finished product. This technique is infinitely more effective than just saying “I want to write a book.” Most new years resolutions (and goals in general) fail because people merely dream of a goal, without implementing a system or routine to propel themselves in the right direction.

2pac didn’t have a fancy, detailed system. His system was simple. He just wrote and recorded every single day. That’s it. He had a vision and a purpose which he executed by hurtling headlong into daily action. At one point, he was recording as much as 3 to 4 songs a day. Now that’s impressive.

It seems obvious, but most people severely underestimate the power of consistent action. Relentlessly pursuing progress and persistently taking action results in gargantuan growth over time.

“Daily, consistent, focused, faithful expectation raises the miracle power of achieving your dreams.” -John Di Lemme

A note on time management:
You might say “I don’t have the time to create.” Which is a bullshit, disempowered excuse. If you incorporate the above techniques, you will make time. As Gandhi once said, “Actions dictate where priorities lie.”

With a higher purpose, a deep sense of urgency, and a system to take consistent action, you too have the capacity to channel your inner 2pac and become a ravenous creator.

We all have brilliantly unique gifts to share with the world. The greatest tragedy is dying with yours inside.

Don’t hesitate, create.

– Stevie P

The ‘Carpe Diem’ Morning Ritual

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Do you enthusiastically jump out of bed every morning, ready to attack your day?

If not, take a step back and think about why you’re taking a new day of life for granted…

If you wake up, complaining about “another day,” get ready in a grumpy haze and rush to work, well, chances are the rest of your day won’t be too fun. What you do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. That’s why it’s so important to start the day off in an empowered, inspired state of consciousness (if you want to live a happy, fulfilling and successful life). It’s no coincidence that the most successful people in any industry are avid advocates of morning rituals. It’s secret-weapon-level effective. What you do in the first hour of your day is the hinge point from which everything else swings. Here’s how to leverage it:

This is exactly what I do every day, as soon as I wake up. It’s the by-product of a lot of research and self-experimentation, inspired by the highly effective techniques of several others. I call it “The ‘Carpe Diem’ Morning Ritual”:

1. Reiki – As soon as I wake up, I practice reiki on myself for a few minutes. It makes me feel simply amazing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I discuss reiki in more depth in this post.

2. Meditate – 5 minutes of meditation. I breath deeply, focusing on my breath until thoughts gradually stop popping up. Then I bask in the peaceful void of pure consciousness.

3. Drink a full glass of water with lemon, apple cider vinegar and Himalayan pink salt – I squeeze half of a lemon, add about an ounce of apple cider vinegar and just a pinch of Himalayan pink salt into a glass of water. This cocktail provides a plethora of health benefits, including detoxification, stimulating metabolism, hydration (obviously), alkalinity, digestion, strengthening the immune system, enhancing skin health and much, much more. I personally use this water filter and Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar.

4. Vitamins C and D – I take these two with the water described above. Vitamin C helps with detoxing and vitamin D supplementation is crucial during the winter months of scarce sunlight. A quick Google search on vitamin D will leave you awe-struck regarding the sheer range of benefits it produces and how important it is for optimal health.

5. Mobility/yoga – For about 5 minutes, I do some stretching, yoga and mobility exercises. This is done mostly intuitively, depending on what parts of my body are stiff. It breaks the bodily rigidity of sleep and gets the chi circulating.

6. Walking – On weekdays, because I have less free time, I walk on the treadmill in my apartment building for 20 minutes. On weekends I like to walk outside more. These walks are always accompanied by podcasts or audiobooks so I can learn while walking. The benefits of walking in the morning are also far-reaching (especially in a fasted state). And another bonus is that walking stimulates a ton of creative inspiration. Many of the greatest writers and philosophers knew this and made a daily habit of walking.

7. Cold shower – I start off with a warm shower. But for the last minute, I turn it as cold as possible. Doing this skyrockets my energy levels. Like every other step of this routine, cold showers have a whole host of benefits. These include increased alertness, better circulation, improved immunity, skin health, weight loss (through thermogenesis), muscle recovery, mitigation of stress, and relief from depression.

8. Oil pulling – Usually as I’m getting ready, I’ll swish coconut oil in my mouth for a few minutes. You guessed it, oil pulling has a ton of benefits too, especially regarding oral health and immunity. There’s a reason why it’s been practiced in India for thousands of years. Read more about oil pulling here. Just remember not to swallow it, because it pulls all of the bacteria and viruses out of your mouth.

Then I continue my day like a cross between Tony Robbins and Mace Windu.

In doing this routine, I wake up ready to maximize my experience of a new day. I feel a sense of purpose and deep-seated empowerment. It is powerfully detoxifying and supercharges the immune system. My body becomes more supple, at ease and at the same time energized. The same goes for my mind, which begets a flood of creative ideas during and after this routine. I get more done throughout the day while retaining my sanity, operating from a place of peace and blissful gratitude.

You don’t have to do all of that to get the majority of the benefits. I’m not going to tell you to go get attuned to reiki (though I highly recommend it) or buy everything that I personally use. But you can get started with a highly effective morning routine ASAP…

The simple and easy “Quick Start Morning Ritual” that you can begin tomorrow and steer your life in the direction you choose:

1. Upon waking, meditate for just 2 minutes. You can stay laying down or sit up, whatever is more comfortable. Breathe deeply into your belly, focus on your breath and simply observe and let go of your thoughts (without judgment) as they pop up. You are the sky, your thoughts are merely clouds passing by.

2. Drink a glass of water with squeezed lemon, apple cider vinegar and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt.

3. Do Elliott Hulse’s Bio-Energizer Warm Up. It’s a good starting point for priming the body in the morning, as it’s relatively simple and feels awesome. He recommends doing each exercise for a minute, but you can get most of the benefits in as little as 20-30 seconds for each.

4. Walk for at least 15 minutes. Either on a treadmill or outside. Listen to a podcast or audiobook while walking to learn while reaping the benefits. Don’t underestimate the importance of movement.

5. Take a shower and make the last 30 seconds of it cold.

Then get out there and make the most out of your finite time on planet Earth.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Gandhi

Carpe diem.

– Stevie P!

Further Information:
A great podcast discussing morning routines and productivity:
http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/early-morning-routine/

42 Ways To Reclaim Your Authentic Self

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Your authentic self is free. Your authentic self is loving. Your authentic self is fearless. Your authentic self is fun. Your authentic self is unique. Your authentic self is child-like (without being childISH). Your authentic self is blissful. Your authentic self is expressive. Your authentic self is at ease. Your authentic self is totally at peace. Your authentic self is your essence.

Your authentic self is compromised by fear. Your authentic self is compromised by conditioning. Your authentic self is compromised by caring about what others think. Your authentic self is compromised by living in the past or future. Your authentic self is compromised by comfort zones. Your authentic self is compromised by self-imposed limitations. Your authentic self is compromised at your job (Ask yourself this… “Am I truly, 100% myself at my job?”). Your authentic self is compromised at the store. Your authentic self is even compromised at home.

We’ve completely lost touch with our authentic selves in today’s society.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…

Here are 42 ways to reclaim your authentic self:

1. Create. Write, draw, build something…etc.

2. Express yourself. Dance, sing, scream, chant, run, jump, skip, climb a tree. Stop suppressing everything and do what your body feels like doing.

3. Don’t follow the crowd. Your authentic self is brilliantly unique. Embrace it.

4. Be random and spontaneous.

5. Love yourself 100%.

6. Go into nature.

7. Travel. Leave your comfort zone.

8. Use your imagination.

9. Stop caring what other people think.

10. Choose love over fear in every situation. Let love be your guide.

11. Play.

12. Laugh.

13. Get back into your body. Run, sprint, work out, do yoga, play a sport, practice martial arts…etc.

14. Give.

15. Compliment people.

16. Live in the present moment! Stop living in the past or future.

17. Question everything.

18. Don’t rigidly identify with labels (race, religion, nationality…etc).

19. Admit when you’re wrong.

20. Master your mind, don’t be a slave to it.

21. Stop complaining.

22. Stop letting your ego run the show.

23. Stop trying to change others. Focus on changing yourself and lead by example.

24. Don’t judge.

25. Breathe deeply.

26. Read a book (and throw out your tv).

27. Meditate.

28. Hone your intuition. Move from thinking to feeling.

29. Find what excites you, and pursue it.

30. Find a job that aligns with your life purpose.

31. Or start your own business and work for yourself.

32. Look up at the stars at night.

33. Get rid of all your useless stuff. You don’t have to be poor or homeless, but having too much stuff ties you down.

34. Be around people who inspire you. Spend less time around those who bring you down.

35. Appreciate each of your senses.

36. Show gratitude.

37. Stay humble, but retain unshakeable confidence.

38. Feel compassion. Experience empathy.

39. Voice your opinion.

40. Assert yourself.

41. Don’t be afraid to dream.

42. Smile.

 

The Art of Random Mindblowing

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A favorite activity of mine recently is randomly blowing people’s minds. Whether through conversation or action, it’s exciting to shake things up a little bit and get people to re-evaluate… well… everything.

Being a CRS (Certified Reality Shatterer) makes life so much more fun. Mindblowing, directed at both yourself and others, shakes up the bland monotony and adds some much needed spice back into life.

It is merging of your lighthearted, childlike essence with the wisdom of life experience; making the world your playground.

How to be a CRS (Certified Reality Shatterer)

Being a CRS means having fun with this experience of life. It’s being random, spontaneous and lovingly unpredictable. It’s shattering societal norms and blowing people’s minds (including your own).

It is being randomly funny, while not forcing people into anything or being preachy. It’s being unshakably yourself. No inhibitions and no fucks given. Living your inherent, brilliant uniqueness.

Comedically sneaking in wisdom is always fun…

Something like giving Pokémon cards to random people at a bar (yes, I’ve done that). Or saying “Planet Earth” when someone asks you where you’re from (my apologies to any extraterrestrial readers out there). Or even just being surprisingly kind. Believe it or not, it blows people’s minds when you go out of your way to be kind.

Another good one is calling the body a vessel, which I find hilarious, yet it implies that we’re infinite beings temporarily inhabiting human bodies. (getting deep on ’em)

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” -Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

And, remember, it’s all about shattering realities from a place of love. The art of random mindblowing is completely deviating from social norms and conditioning without causing harm to yourself or others.

Why do this seemingly ridiculous stuff?

The art of random mindblowing is making people re-evaluate everything and think differently, helping to create a world of brilliantly unique individuals. It’s dropping bits of wisdom in an entertaining manner.

It’s about being yourself. It’s about being free. It’s expressing your magnificent uniqueness.

We all sacrifice our freedom based on fear of what others think or pressure to conform to “norms.” And that’s no fun. Life is infinitely more fun and fulfilling when you do your own thing.

Imagine achieving the same level of minblowingness of Inception or The Matrix with your own ideas and actions. And making it funny, like a thought-provoking stand-up comedy set. Now that’s living.

“The decision is, do you want to live or want to exist?” -Andre 3000

The art of random mindblowing in action:

“Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the Weather.” -Bill Hicks

+A couple weeks ago at a crowded bar, I struck up a conversation with a really drunk girl comparing getting to the bar to a game of chess. We both agreed that we wouldn’t want to be a pawn haha. (Sneaking in deep insights.)

+One time, my friend Marcus spontaneously started konging on the street, next to a woman sitting outside at a restaurant. She didn’t know how to react. In case you don’t know what konging is…

+My Dad always purposely says the wrong name of anyone with a nametag (waitresses…etc.) It always creates an entertaining exchange.

+Mindblowing also works with evidence that effectively overturns commonly accepted truisms. Like how distance running is far from ideal for fat loss. I’ve shared this article (well worth the read) with a lot of people, and half-sarcastically say “I don’t wanna get fat” whenever the topic of long-distance running comes up.

+Inspired by writing the post, I did some CRS’ing today… In the parking lot of a Chipotle I walked up to a guy, while kind of staring at the sky, and asked “Excuse me, what planet is this?” in a tone of genuine curiosity. He looked at me and with a confused look said “Earth?” (almost second-guessing himself). Then I said “Ok, thank you.” turned around and walked away. I’m pretty sure he’ll be marinating on that moment for the rest of his life.

I’ve been doing a lot of random mindblowing lately; and been around some people who embody being a CRS as well. I hear a lot of things like “Oh, I never thought of it that way…” or “You’re funny/interesting.” Which is cool. Plus it’s just so damn fun.

Mindblowing intros:

“You look like some friendly beings.” -Me to a group of two women

“Hey, I recognize that vessel…” -My friend Marcus to some guy he met once before

“Hey, nice vessel.”

“What’s your thoughts on the human condition, in one sentence?”

“It’s a beautiful hologram we live in, right?”

Mindblowing goodbyes:

“Have the best night of your life.” -My friend Chris (to at least 100 different people on the streets of NYC one weekend)

“May all the dreams and desires of your heart come true this year.”Jay Electronica ending an interview. (I’ve started saying this one too; such a great way to say goodbye haha.)

And to piggyback on that Jay Electronica quote, I changed my email signature at work to say “May all the dreams and desires of your heart come true.” Now how’s that for shattering realities?

I also enjoy leaving people I’ll never see again with the classic David Icke quote… “Remember, infinite love is the only truth, everything else is illusion.”

I incorporate all this in my textual adventures too, especially with women I’m pursuing who are unresponsive. That’s the opportune time to let go, leave them with something thought-provoking, blow their mind and spark that inner light within. Exhibit A:

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Now get out there and blow some minds. Have fun, be spontaneous, be yourself and enjoy life.

May all the dreams and desires of your heart come true.

-Stephen Parato, CRS

6 Reasons Why You Should Travel Alone

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Last weekend I took a solo weekend trip to Acadia National Park in Maine… And it was an amazing experience. (Acadia is a definite must-see for everyone in my opinion. If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it.)

The entire island (Mt. Desert Island) is sprawling with pristine wilderness. Acadia has miles and miles of well-kept hiking trails. There are mountains with ridgelines that look like the spines of gigantic creatures, merging into the scenic, rocky Maine coast. Then there’s quaint town of Bar Harbor, with a nice selection of quality restaurants and shops. Endless awesomeness everywhere you go.

I had a great weekend in Acadia. Every time I travel alone, I’m ridiculously spontaneous. I consciously let go of any fears, do everything on a whim and get into all kinds of random adventures. Plus I always meet more people than when I’m with people I already know. (Don’t get me wrong, traveling with others is awesome too. It’s great to bond through experience. But the benefits of solo travel aren’t valued and enjoyed enough, in my opinion.)

Be open and spontaneous; not closed off and rigid. You need to be open to new experiences, because that’s when the magic happens. Cultivate your inner lone wolf and enjoy the experience of life.

“We came here to be free.” -Ralph Smart

 

6 Reasons to Travel Alone

1. You meet more people.

When you’re traveling alone, you just end up talking to more random people. And that’s part of why it can be so fun. Make friends at the top of a mountain. Go out to dinner by yourself and talk to whoever is around. Venture into a bar by yourself and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Talk to some friendly people on the street. New experiences… That’s what life is all about.

2. You’re completely free.

Solo travel entails being dynamic and spontaneous. You can do anything on a whim. There is no one else to please, no one to ask for approval and no limits. The only constraints you have are those created by your own mind. Traveling alone allows you to follow your heart on whatever spontaneous adventures it may bring you on.

3. You become more present.

When you’re solo, you don’t worry about anyone else. You’re able to more easily get “in the zone” when you’re by yourself. Especially when alone in nature, you slip into a deep presence; a connectedness with all that is.

4. You’re forced into personal growth.

You can’t depend on anyone but yourself when traveling alone. You have to constantly step out of your comfort zone. There’s no one to hold your hand or do anything for you. Traveling solo fosters so much self-improvement, and puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own life.

5. You become comfortable in your own skin.

You have to learn to be comfortable with yourself to travel alone. And the more you do it, the more comfortable with yourself you get. Traveling alone cultivates self-love and self-acceptance, which is so crucial in maximizing the human experience.

6. You get to know yourself better.

It’s just you… When you travel alone, you give yourself space to reflect as you accumulate experience. Solo travel adventures give you the opportunity to ‘look within’ even as you’re exploring the outside world.

“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.” -Lao Tzu

 

Explore, stay spontaneous and keep metabolizing awesome experiences.

Much love.

-Stevie P!

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